Christmas Trees in Church?

26 11 2012

We have them in our houses, shopping malls, city squares, businesses, municipal buildings, and just about everywhere during the Christmas season. It has been recently suggested to me that we should get one for our church auditorium (sanctuary). Is that a good idea? Is it a harmless decoration or a dangerous compromise? Is it taking away the true meaning of Christmas in the one place where the true meaning of Christmas needs trumpeted, or is it a meaningful symbol of the Savior? These are questions that need asked by those who are the decision makers for moving the Christmas tree into the church’s place reserved for worship. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The Christian community is divided on the issue.

I have never attended a church where a decorated Christmas tree was found in the place of worship. I was raised in the Catholic Church, attended Catholic Schools, and now am the pastor of a Baptist church. It was never an issue. No one ever complained about the church’s failure to decorate the sanctuary with a Christmas tree. There was however a yearly display of the Nativity with wooden stable and life-size figures of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus in a manger, shepherds, wise men, star, and animals. It was a display that you will no longer see in many houses, shopping malls, city squares, businesses, municipal buildings, or just about anywhere else. If a Christmas tree or figure of Santa were in the display,they would be alien to this recreated scene from Scripture. As a Catholic, the manger was empty until Christmas. I would wait anxiously for the day when the baby Jesus would arrive, not for Santa to show up and give gifts to the holy family and surprised shepherds. It was church, the place where the true meaning of Christmas was a staple.

In my on-line study, I found it a controversial issue. Some are so settled in their position that they leave no room for other opinions. Wicca (witchcraft) claims many of the trappings of Christmas are pagan in origin. So how could one decide? It is one of those Romans 14 things.
Romans 14:5
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Perhaps 1 Corinthians 10 is a guideline.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
I will not be critical of someone who is fully persuaded in their mind that a Christmas tree is proper in a place of worship, because it glorifies God. I must follow the dictates of my own conscience and say “no”.

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